I’ve stated in other articles that “the most critical skill set to develop is not getting people to listen to you.
Rather, it’s the skill of getting them to talk with you, to open up, and to willingly share the specifics of their individual situations.”
Many times when you’re cold calling a company, the first step of this process of “getting them to talk with you” can be accomplished by explaining the reason for your call.
You have a brief period of time—approximately 30 seconds—to gain the attention of the individual you’re calling, to eliminate (or at least not create) a reflex rejection, and to change the dynamics of the call from a monologue (you talk) to a dialogue (they’re willingly talk to you).
Think in terms of the person you’re calling. Project yourself into their position and you’ll understand that your call (as well as any unplanned call) will be viewed as an interruption to their busy work day. Therefore, you must give them a reason to listen, you must stimulate in them an interest or curiosity, and you must engage them willingly in a two-way business dialogue.
Within a brief timeframe, you must explain in understandable terms exactly why you have selected their company to call, why you are contacting them specifically, and what potential benefit could accrue to them as a result of your call. No “smoke and mirrors,” just a forthright statement explaining the reason for your call.
Obviously, it’s important to utilize certain criteria when cold calling companies. These criteria are usually reflected in your firm’s strategic marketing plan and may include any or all of the following: area of specialization, industry/market focus, size and number of employees, location(s), research findings, referral source, competitive positioning, technological capability, etc.
Whether by plan or by happenstance, you do have reasons for selecting your prospects. Make certain those reasons are based on solid business principles that make good sense to you, as well as to your prospect.
Without these criteria as a guide for the call, you may be perceived by your prospect as an “unnecessary annoyance” who has little to offer. If that happens, your prospect will immediately begin to execute an exit strategy from the call. Once this occurs, it is extremely difficult to redirect the call in a positive fashion for both of you, and you can rule them out of becoming a contact in your recruiting software anytime soon.
The two primary things you have to work with is your time and your ability to make things happen through the proper utilization of that time, together with your available resources. You choose when and how to utilize your time and resources. Those choices will determine the level of success you experience in this business, and they begin when you determine “who” to call and “why” you are calling them.
Do not approach the call from a position of need (i.e., you need a job order, you need their business, you need to reach your goal or achieve your numbers). This is a weak position that allows you few options.
Rather, approach the call as an opportunity to engage a peer in a two-way business discussion that could bring benefit to both of you.
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Terry Petra is one of the recruiting industry’s leading trainers and business consultants. A Certified Personnel Consultant since 1975 and a Certified International Personnel Consultant since 1989, Petra has extensive experience as a producer, manager, and trainer in all areas of professional search, including retainer, contingency, and contract, as well as clerical/office support and temporary. For more information about his services, visit his website or call 651.738.8561.